China furious as US Senate passes rights bill
UN calls for restraint as fewer than 100 protesters remain on campus
Some anti-government protesters trapped inside a Hong Kong university yesterday tried to flee through the sewers, where one student said she saw snakes, but firemen prevented further escape bids by blocking a manhole into the system.
Reuters witnesses said fewer than 100 protesters remained inside the Polytechnic University, ring-fenced 24 hours a day by riot police, after more than 1,000 were arrested from late on Monday.
Some surrendered while others were held during escape attempts that included trying to clamber down ropes to waiting motorbikes on Monday night, with protesters throwing petrol bombs and police responding with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon. Police said six people were arrested yesterday.
The UN human rights office was watching the university situation with “deepening concern”, spokesman Rupert Colville said in Geneva on Tuesday. He called on authorities to seek a peaceful resolution.
The streets were quiet on Tuesday and yesterday.
Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in freedoms promised to Hong Kong when the then British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. They say they are responding to excessive use of force by police.
Police have made more than 5,000 arrests in connection with the protests since June.
Meanwhile, the US Senate unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, which would require the secretary of state to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special US trading consideration and would impose sanctions against officials responsible for rights violations.
China summoned a representative of the US embassy in Beijing over the legislation and demanded that the United States stop meddling, the foreign ministry said.
The Hong Kong government expressed “deep regret” over the bill.